Are you a Gluten-holic?
Are you a gluten lover?
Okay, the whole US is going crazy over Gluten-free diet and we might be close to seeing Gluten-free becoming the new normal. But what about the people like me who actually love Wheat Gluten and everything that’s made out of it? From my experiences, I noticed that there is certainly an impact on the availability of gluten rich dishes in restaurants because of all this gluten free madness. Little do the majority of meat eating people know that Seitan meat (wheat gluten) is actually a delicacy for vegetarians and there are people who really enjoy eating Seitan meat. Seitan is used to make meatless items like veggie chicken, veggie tuna etc that go into vegetarian delicacies at specialty vegetarian/vegan restaurants.
Most vegetarian restaurants used to have dishes made of Seitan and they are having to take them off their menus now because no one is ordering them! I spoke to one vegetarian restaurant owner in the San Francisco Bay Area who mentioned that he used to have a lot more dishes made of Seitan meat until few years back, but with everyone requesting ‘gluten free’, he had to switch to more popular way of making veggie chicken, that is with soy. Delicacies made out of soy taste good too, but just not as good as Seitan to me!
My Quest for Gluten
When I was living in Philadelphia area, I found this really good restaurant called ‘Wild Ginger’ in Huntingdon Valley. If you live around Philly, and are a vegetarian, you should try this restaurant out and you will love it! They have a huge menu of Seitan meat based dishes and each one tastes better than the other. I was a regular visitor to this restaurant until I had to move out of Pennsylvania. I never thought finding Seitan meat would be a big deal in Dallas where I moved to. But I was wrong. I tried so many vegetarian places and not even a single restaurant had seitan meat on their menu. I spoke to a couple of restaurant owners and they complained about how seitan meat wouldn’t fit in their menu because so many customers wanted Gluten free dishes.
A year later I had to move to the San Francisco Bay Area, and this time I thought I might be in luck because San Francisco is much bigger metro area and guess what! Not even a single restaurant from San Francisco to San Jose had seitan meat on their menu! The few vegetarian restaurant owners I spoke to had the same complaint, that the customers just don’t want gluten in their food and they had to take seitan meat off their menus.
Why so Anti-Gluten?!
Gluten is actually an extract of protein from wheat and we all know that protein is good for the human body. People who do weight training in the gym actually buy a protein supplement to fuel the muscle build up after their workouts. So why has a diet that is drained of all its protein content become the new norm for many people? Let us examine the facts. The only scientific reason for anyone to avoid gluten is if that person has celiac disease or is gluten intolerant. A website dedicated to Celiac disease says that around 1% of the whole US population have Celiac disease and around 6% are gluten intolerant. A survey by NPD, a consumer research firm says that around 30% of Americans are now avoiding Gluten. So, what is the reason for the other 24% to choose a Gluten free diet? Attribute that to some celebs like Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Gwyneth Paltrow etc. endorsing the gluten free diet. Add a few sport stars to the list like Drew Brees & Novak Djokovic. And you have your category of 24% of the people blindly following the celebrities! That is what Jimmy Kimmel & Seth Rogen made a subject of their funny videos here: Jimmy Kimmel's video & Seth Rogen's scene from the movie 'This Is The End'.
I can understand if people with Celiac disease avoid gluten, but why do many other people who actually don’t have Celiac disease avoid Gluten? The reason everyone in that category give is ‘they feel better’ or ‘have a lot more energy’. Really?? Lot more energy because you have eaten a dish that had all its protein content drained out? Look at this article titled 'Junk Food: 7 Bad Foods a Nutritionist Would Never Eat’ in Shape Magazine where the author lists Seitan meat. His description of Seitan meat in the article clearly states ‘no research linking seitan intake to increased prevalence of gluten allergies or intolerances’, but still lists it as a 'Bad Food'!
I just wish all these people did some research regarding what gluten is and what difference it makes in the diet rather than just going gluten-free for the sake of it.
Do you love Seitan?
Do you also love Seitan meat like I do? Please comment on the article in the section below and let me know your thoughts. Also suggest the names of restaurants in your cities which have Seitan on their menu. Let us try to find an oasis in this gluten-free desert!